HC Deb 09 November 1954 vol 532 cc1022-3
20. Mr. Collins

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that Polish willows are imported into this country at a price of £170 per ton whereas manufactured willow shopping baskets are imported from Poland at a c.i.f. price of £160 per ton; that a finished article is sold for less than the materials of which it is composed; and if he will investigate the matter and take whatever steps are necessary to protect British craftsmen from dumping of this kind.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. A. R. W. Low)

In the first nine months of this year, imports of willow baskets from Poland have amounted to just over £400. These goods are liable to an import duty of 30 per cent. ad valorem. In the circumstances I do not consider that there is a case for further action.

Mr. Collins

Is the Minister aware that the facts given in the Question indicate that the 30 per cent. ad valorem duty is quite useless? This is a small industry in which more than half of the workers are blind or otherwise handicapped. Will he look into the situation again, because similar conditions apply to imports from Hong Kong, Indonesia and elsewhere?

Mr. Low

The facts given in my answer, which I understand to be the true facts, indicate that the position is not very serious at the moment. That is also supported by the fact that we have had no representations from the National Basket and Willow Trade Advisory Committee.

Mr. Bottomley

While the answer shows that the proportion at present is not large, would not the Minister agree that, with the abolition of controls, private enterprise will buy more of these articles instead of buying foodstuffs from Poland?

Mr. Low

I do not think that is the case at the moment. As the right hon. Gentleman probably knows, the imports of willow baskets and indeed of willows from Poland are subject to a quota under the trade agreement.